25-30% of patients with schizophrenia report suffering auditory verbal hallucination which are resistant to antipsychotic medications, further impacting functioning and behaviour control. Previous studies implementing repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) support the use of non-invasive neurostimulation methods to reduce hallucination severity. However, inconsistent results of these studies contributed to the reintroduction of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). This neurostimulation technique has seen increased use as a neurological and psychiatric treatment, with the possibility to measure cortical excitability by increasing tissue activity around the anodal electrode and inhibit activity near the cathodal electrode.
Incorporating information from past literature, this study sought to assess the effectiveness of tDCS as a potential treatment for schizophrenic patients with resistant auditory verbal hallucinations, while also observing if results could be obtained for other symptoms. In placing the cathode on the left temporal-parietal junction (side of the head) and anode on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (front, top of head – hypoactivity in this region linked to negative schizophrenia symptoms), researchers believed stimulation could reduce hallucination severity and perhaps other symptoms. 30 schizophrenia patients (experiencing medication resistant hallucinations) were included, maintaining their usual medication regime during the course of the three month, double-blind study (patients and investigators were unaware of treatment group). Patients were randomised into two treatment groups (active tDCS stimulation – 2mA stimulation for 20 minutes, twice daily for five consecutive days; ...
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...tion or how neurotransmitters affect the disease and treatment. Finally, this study focused on an isolated symptom, raising questions of why treatment varies for different symptoms and affecting the use of the treatment as “working” for schizophrenia (George et al. 2009,p.18).
Despite limitations, significant findings were revealed from the results, in line with past literature (George et al. 2009). The study proved the effectiveness of tDCS in reducing hallucinations and negative symptoms, while also opening opportunities to further explore effects on other symptoms. In showing a medium effect for positive and depressive symptoms, this shows researchers are close to finding a solution for stimulation to be effective on these symptoms, and encourages more research to fine-tune exact stimulation locations to increase benefits of tDCS on other schizophrenia symptoms.
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